Celebrity cook-off a hot blend

Well-fed attendees and a boost of $3,709 to the Cayman Islands Humane Society summed up the happy spirit at the Lighthouse Restaurant charity event last Saturday.

The lunchtime event, to raise funds for the cats and dogs at the Humane Society, featured local figures as the chefs of the day.

Thirty-six patrons took advantage of the rare opportunity to see Governor Stuart Jack, dressed in full chef gear, competing with local singer and songwriter Barefoot Man (also known as George Nowak); food enthusiast Simon Powell and cooking queen of Breakers Nell Connor, for bragging rights.

On arrival guests were enticed with canap├ęs and fantinel prosecco wine before dining on a four-course meal, which consisted of a red beetroot and goat cheese salad, red conch chowder, naked lobster in mango and ginger sauce and a banana Foster’s dessert.

Iron Chef

The Governor made his entrance from the kitchen and took an Iron Chef stance, to the delight of patrons.

He then highlighted the main ingredients and preparation of his famous red beetroot and goat cheese salad.

After quickly glancing around to make sure Lighthouse’s executive chef, Remy Azavedo, was standing close by, the Governor combined baby arugula, beetroot slices, goat cheese, toasted pine nuts and a special blend of vinaigrette before serving his dish.

Queen of Breakers

Miss Nell’s conch chowder was the next dish. The spry 80-something year old is never one to turn down an opportunity to meet and greet, whether it is for a worthy cause or not.

Every bit as spicy as her conch chowder, the senior danced a merry jig, hugged those close by and explained how she became renowned for her chowder, now served as a regular menu item at the Lighthouse Restaurant.

Chef Shoeless

Waiting anxiously on the sidelines to fire up the stove was Barefoot, dressed in an orange apron decorated with cooking medals pinched from Chef Remy.

Complaining of ‘not getting good help these days’, Chef Remy hurriedly lit the stove before Barefoot blew up the restaurant.

Barefoot was on a roll and anxious for everyone to see he was the celebrity chef of the moment.

Those who know Barefoot know he cannot do anything without his music, so down went the spoon from tending the simmering lobster coated in mango ginger sauce and up came his guitar as he launched into the folk song, We’re Busted.

Chef Sir Simon

Chef Simon was not to be outdone by Barefoot. He decided he would stage his own guitar-picking lyrics.

Little did he know that Lighthouse host Giuseppe Gatta, who has a background in food and a passion for charitable work, would let out the chef’s safely-guarded secret of him playing with a band named The Prunes.

This only made Mr. Powell more eager to outsmart Chef Remy, since he was the only one to master his cooking talents during Remy’s cooking classes at the Lighthouse.

Calling on Chef Remy to light up the stove and stop drinking all the rum to be used in his dessert, Simon flung the butter into the hot pan to cries of ‘be careful!’ from Chef Remy. Giuseppe’s lips formed a perfect ‘Oh!’, with eyebrows raised high in astonishment at the idea he might not have a restaurant to open later.

But Chef Simon was not to be outdone, not by the Iron Chef Governor, the queen of Breakers or the man who refused to wear shoes.

Sir Simon eyed the mixture of simmering spices gleefully in anticipation of his big bang. To his left, host Giuseppe hovered closely with a fire extinguisher and to the right Chef Remy stood ready to grab the fiery cooking pan in the event of an accidental spill.

For showing him up as an amateur chef, Simon grabbed his guitar and strummed to the lyrics ‘You can’t trust a chef who isn’t fat’.

The joyful event finished with guests enjoying sweet wine.

The event sponsors were Jacques Scott, Blackbeard, Cayman Distributors, Caribbean Gourmet, Cayman Sea Salt, Anne and Colin Shaw, Progressive Ltd, Island Supply and Barefoot Records.